Saturday, 23 January 2016

Winter Challenge Grampians

During September's blue sky and sunshine, a group of adventure seekers ran, kayaked, abseiled and mountain biked across the northern Grampians over two days. The event was an adventure race known as The Winter Challenge, however the weather that they got meant the race was nothing like the name suggests. Competitors travelled to the area from as far as South Australia and New South Wales.

The team was very excited about Tim Boote joining us for the first time. He brings a great amount of experience and power to the team, especially in the stage racing format.

Saturday saw the race start from Zumstein Picnic Ground with competitors running along the MacKenzie Creek up to MacKenzie Falls and ending up at Wartook Reservoir where they then had to paddle the length of the lake to reach more checkpoints. The sun broke through the clouds as competitors rode their bikes north along the Mt Difficult Range using fire trails and dirt roads. When they found their way to Mt Stapylton car park, teams made their way up the rocks to an abseiling location. Once all of the teams had safely descended, they then faced a climb up to the Mount Stapylton summit. The final mountain bike involved making their way to Laharum Grove where they enjoyed a much deserved meal. 

With only one day complete, racers gathered at Zumstein Picnic Ground again on Sunday morning, now joined by a large contingent of one day racers who had entered the lite course. It was a busy start line, and we managed to get clear with the other two top teams by getting KV on the tow rope early. We nailed the general location of the first checkpoint while the others rode past, but failed to find it hidden in some bushes and lost any advantage we could have obtained unfortunately.

Biking through dirt tracks and attempting to find checkpoints hidden in trees, wood piles and next to dams we again ended up at Lake Wartook. With conditions windier than the previous day the paddle was slightly more challenging, but there were many smiling faces all the same. With a "downhill" ride to get to the Asses Ears, they were then faced with a lung busting climb up to the top, but rewarded with magnificent views in every direction. With only a relatively short ride left to go, teams raced (or coasted) back to the Wander Inn where they enjoyed another great meal and some glorious sunshine.

Dynamite Adventure captain Paul Gruber said at the finish line "we just loved the course and it has really opened my eyes to some of the lesser known treasures the Northern Grampians has tucked away. We were amazed to see how the bush has recovered so far from the devastating fires and are sure it will look a lot different when hopefully we come back next year."

We were really happy with our two days of racing. We kept  in touch with ThoughtSportzs really until the final trek on each of the days and had no major nav issues. Tim did a great job keeping our pace high on the bike and our paddling was also solid on the lake which is a discipline we've tended to struggle with in the past.

Team ThoughtSports/Shotz nutrition won the two day pro course with Lisa and Blair Brydon taking out the single day Lite course.